Celebrating children in rural Laos
Each year on 1 June, many countries around the world celebrate Children`s Day. It is a significant day which reminds us all to protect children`s rights, support children`s potential and gives us all a chance to recall our own childhoods. In Laos it is not just the main cities that celebrate; events are also held in remote areas to show the importance of Children`s Day for everyone.
Nonghet, where ChildFund Laos has been working since 2010, is one of the poorest districts in Xieng Khouang province in northern Laos. Over the past five years, ChildFund has worked with local authorities to organise events in Nonghet to celebrate Children`s Day. For the children in these villages who have limited time for recreational activities, Children`s Day gives them an opportunity to play, learn and express themselves.
The popularity of these events has continued to grow. So much so, that this year ChildFund organised a number of events over four days in different locations so many more children, families and community members could attend.
“Today it`s the International Children`s Day! I danced with other children from my village to welcome all the children. I liked it, I had fun, and it`s good for the community to see it. I learnt about children`s rights such as the right to be educated and to develop oneself,” says 12-year-old Peng (pictured left), during the celebrations.
A health booth provided free baby health checks, raised awareness of local health issues and provided information on family planning. Ms. Bouapeng, who works as a Deputy at Nonghet District Hospital, provided check-ups for mothers and children and basic medicine where needed during the event.
Ms. Bouapeng explained that it is essential to raise awareness about healthy living: “In some communities of Nonghet, some children face a lack of food and as a consequence, they can have health issues. With the organisation of this event, some communities located in remote areas are able to come together and so mothers and children can be checked by healthcare personnel.” She insisted on the importance of this celebration not only for children, but also their mothers.
The disaster risk reduction booth gave visitors a chance to brush up on their knowledge about what to do in the event of an emergency through quizzes and a drawing competition. But one of the most popular areas was certainly the child participation booth which provided a platform for children to express themselves, show their talents, test their knowledge on a child rights, sing songs and dance.
10-year-old Sanyasong was excited to take part in the celebrations: “To organise this event is a good idea because children can get more knowledge.” For instance, he told us that now he knows more about children`s rights around education and the right to get help from the community. He also said that he really enjoyed drawing in one of the disaster risk reduction activities.